Ashcourt Racing rider relies on Honda Fireblade for victory
After a disappointing Isle of Man TT 2022, Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston hopes the switch from BMW to Honda in the 1000cc classes will be a breath of fresh air for the 2023 TT races.
Johnston and his team have acquired the former Glenn Irwin CBR1000RR Fireblades from Honda’s official racing division and plan to run them in the RST Superbike, RL360 and Milwaukee Senior races.
The comeback with the Fireblade
After winning the opening race of the 2019 Supersport class, Johnston hopes the switch to the Fireblade will move him up in the big races and complement his chances in the Monster Energy Supersport and Bennett’s Supertwin races, where he is once again one of the favorites.
“We had a bit of trouble with the big bikes last year, electrical issues and the like, which was a real shame as I was running in the top four in both the Superbike and Superstock Races,” explained Johnston. “Being that high up only to run into problems was very frustrating.
You only have to look around the paddock at both the roads and the short circuits to see that the Honda Fireblade is favoured by a lot of riders, and quite a few guys have been going well on it lately. That tells me the bike has a good base chassis and it’s a good package all round so it’s worth trying at this year’s TT.”
Why the Honda Fireblade was chosen
According to Johnston, many riders are sold on the Honda Fireblade. “You only have to look around the paddock, both on the street and on the short tracks, to see that the Honda Fireblade is favored by a lot of riders, and some guys have been riding it well lately. That tells me the bike has a good base chassis and is a good overall package, so it’s worth trying at this year’s TT.”
Johnston’s impressions were confirmed by recent tests at the Monteblanco and Andalucia circuits in Spain.
“It’s changed massively since I last rode a Honda in 2018. The newer model feels really nice and smooth,” he explained. “It feels small too, and the fact it’s nice and compact gives a small rider like myself a lot of confidence straightaway. I felt really comfortable on it.”
Aiming for the big bike podium
Although Johnston was considered more of a smaller bike rider, he achieved his first TT podium in the Superstock class when he finished third behind Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop in 2015. He is determined to get better results this time around with the Fireblade:
“It was quite funny being on a Superstock podium alongside Hutchy and Michael, but I want to give it a real good go on the big bikes this year especially as things were going well last year before I hit trouble. I was able to lap at 130mph from a standing start and whilst there’s a couple of mph to be found for it to happen, I’d love to be on a big bike podium again.
That’s not going to be easy when you see the likes of Michael finishing off the podium in a Senior Race, like he did last year. That shows you how difficult it is to finish on a Superbike podium but the more mileage we do, the better chance we’ll have.”
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